Discover common Italian words used when dining in restaurants with our helpful guide. From ordering food to paying the bill, learn to speak like a local!
Are you planning a trip to Italy and want to impress the locals with your knowledge of Italian dining vocabulary? Or perhaps you’re simply a foodie who wants to elevate their dining experience at Italian restaurants?
Either way, mastering Italian dining vocabulary is a must! From antipasti to dolci, there’s a whole world of culinary terms to explore. But don’t worry, with this guide, you’ll be ordering like a pro in no time.
Common Italian food terms
Italian cuisine is famous all around the world for its delicious flavors and unique dishes. However, if you’re not familiar with the language, ordering in an Italian restaurant can be intimidating.
To make things easier, let’s start with some of the most common Italian food terms you’ll come across on an Italian menu.
Italians refer to appetizers as antipasti. This dish is meant to whet your appetite and is typically served cold or hot. Bruschetta, caprese salad, and prosciutto e melone are a few of the most well-liked antipasti meals.
Primi Piatti refers to the first course of a traditional Italian meal. This course is usually a pasta dish, but it can also be risotto, soup, or gnocchi. Some of the most popular primi piatti dishes are spaghetti alla carbonara, lasagna, and fettuccine Alfredo.
Secondi piatti is the main course of a traditional Italian meal. This course usually consists of meat or fish dishes, and it’s served with a side dish of vegetables or potatoes.
Some of the most popular secondi piatti dishes are ossobuco alla milanese, bistecca alla fiorentina, and pesce al cartoccio.
Dolci is the Italian word for desserts. Italian desserts are famous all around the world for their rich flavors and creamy textures. Some of the most popular Italian desserts are tiramisu, panna cotta, and cannoli.
Ordering food in Italian
Now that you know some of the most common Italian food terms, let’s move on to ordering food in Italian. Ordering in an Italian restaurant can be intimidating, but don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.
How to order
When you’re ready to place your order, just ask the waiter “Posso ordinare?” (which translates to “Can I order?”), and then specify what you want to eat. You can request a plate of spaghetti alla carbonara by saying “Vorrei un piatto di spaghetti alla carbonara, per favore,” for instance.
Making special requests
If you have any dietary restrictions or special requests, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter.
For example, if you’re a vegetarian, you can say “Sono vegetariano/a, ci sono piatti vegetariani?” which means “I’m a vegetarian, are there any vegetarian dishes?”
Paying the bill
When you’re finished with your meal, you can ask for the bill by saying “Il conto, per favore.” which means “The bill, please.”
Italian dining etiquette
Knowing some Italian dining etiquette is just as vital as being fluent in the Italian language’s dining lexicon and food ordering procedures.
It’s formal to eat out in Italy. If you’re going to an Italian restaurant, make sure you’re dressed properly. While women ought to put on a dress or a blouse and skirt, men ought to don a suit or a jacket and tie.
Italians take their table manners seriously. When dining in an Italian restaurant, it’s important to use utensils properly and keep your elbows off the table. It’s also considered rude to talk with your mouth full or to make loud noises while eating.
In Italy, tipping is not expected. However, if you receive exceptional service, you can leave a small tip of 5-10%.
Italian wine terminology
Italian wine is famous all around the world for its rich flavors and unique varieties. To make the most of your Italian dining experience, it’s important to know some Italian wine terminology.
Vino rosso is the Italian word for red wine. Some of the most popular Italian red wines are Chianti, Barolo, and Brunello di Montalcino.
White wine is known as vino bianco in Italian. Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Soave, and Pinot Grigio are some of the most well-liked Italian white wines.
Sparkling wine is known as vino spumante in Italian. Prosecco, Asti Spumante, and Franciacorta are some of the most well-known sparkling wines produced in Italy.
Vino della Casa
The term “sparkling wine” (vino spumante) originates from Italian. Prosecco, Asti Spumante, and Franciacorta are some of the most well-known Italian sparkling wines.
Italian desserts and coffee
No Italian dining experience is complete without trying some Italian desserts and coffee.
Italian desserts are famous all around the world for their rich flavors and creamy textures. Some of the most popular Italian desserts are tiramisu, panna cotta, and cannoli.
Italian coffee is famous all around the world for its strong flavor and rich aroma. Some of the most popular Italian coffee drinks are espresso, cappuccino, and latte macchiato.
Italian dining phrases for small talk
To make the most of your Italian dining experience, it’s important to know some Italian dining phrases for small talk.
Italians frequently use the term “buon appetito” to wish one another a good dinner. It is the Italian equivalent of the English phrase “enjoy your meal.”
It’s customary for Italians to say “Salute” before a drink in their native language, which is the equivalent of saying “Cheers!”
Grazie mille means “Thank you very much.” It’s a polite way of showing your appreciation to the waiter.
Italian phrases in dining
I would like a plate of spaghetti alla carbonara, please.
- The bill, please. – Il conto, per favore.
- Enjoy your meal! – Buon appetito!
- Thank you very much. – Grazie mille.
Italian restaurant recommendations
If you’re planning a trip to Italy and want to experience the best Italian cuisine, here are some restaurant recommendations to consider.
Osteria Francescana, Modena
Osteria Francescana is a three Michelin-starred restaurant in Modena, Italy. It’s known for its innovative cuisine and creative dishes.
Da Vittorio, Brusaporto
Da Vittorio is a three Michelin-starred restaurant in Brusaporto, Italy. It’s known for its traditional Italian cuisine and impeccable service.
Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia, Milan
The Milan, Italy, restaurant Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia has two Michelin stars. Modern Italian cuisine and an upscale ambiance are its trademarks.
Learn Italian while dining in
Italian cuisine is famous all around the world for its delicious flavors and unique dishes. However, ordering in an Italian restaurant can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the language.
With this guide, you’ll be able to order like a pro and impress the locals with your knowledge of Italian dining vocabulary. So get ready to indulge in the delicious world of Italian cuisine with confidence and ease. if you want to know more about the Italian language, here’s our beginner’s guide that might help you. Ciao bella!